A Hendon mother has made a desperate plea for the return of her two young boys after claims that their Russian father and grandmother abducted them and have now gone into hiding somewhere in the Russian interior, writes Stephen Oryszczuk.
Heart-broken Rachael Neustadt launched a new petition after the boys’ father went underground following a series of court cases in London and Moscow that ruled in the mother’s favour and ordered him to return his sons to Rachael.
The rulings, from the UK’s High Court and from Moscow’s City Court, were made after their lecturer father Ilya failed to return young Jonathan and Daniel Jakob – then aged four and six – who he took on holiday in December 2012.
The boys were taken to Moscow, away from their mother and younger brother Meir, and Rachael has not seen them since.
“It’s unfathomable what my boys are going through,” she said. “I am trying to send strength and love to help them get through this, until I manage to rescue them. Every day that their abduction continues they are being hurt.”
The Jewish Aid Comittee has taken up Rachael’s cause, helping her raise funds for the fight through shuls, primary schools and youth movements. Online donations are also being made and local community figures are lending support.
“I’m appalled at the way the father has exploited his children,” said Rabbi Malcolm Herman, director of SEED. “He has deprived them of their mother and brother in vital, formative years.”
On the campaign, he added: “As a community we must do everything possible to support Mrs Neustadt in her fight for justice. This case is not some distant, bizarre situation. It took place right here in the heart of north-west London.”
The boys’ disappearance is all the more heart-wrenching because late last year Rachael finally thought she would see them again after a landmark legal ruling in Russia ordered her sons returned.
However, the boys last attended school on 15 November and have not been seen since they were last spotted leaving their paternal grandmother Irina’s apartment.
“I fear for their safety,” said Rachael this week. “They have been told lies, that their mother no longer loves them. How does that not damage a child?”